Ronnie O’Sullivan accepts UFC challenge to step into cage with Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett

Laila Rouass responds to question about Ronnie O'Sullivan split

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Snooker icon Ronnie O’Sullivan has sensationally accepted a challenge from UFC rising star Paddy ’The Baddy’ Pimblett to enter the octagon for a sparring session. The challenge was put to him after O’Sullivan went to watch Pimblett compete at UFC London.

The Rocket is first preparing to do battle with defending champion Neil Robertson in the semi-finals of the Tour Championship, with Robertson in fine form. O’Sullivan secured a dramatic 10-9 quarter-final win in Llandudno on Wednesday, topping old rival Mark Williams in a thriller. 

O’Sullivan was supported in the stands by friend Pimblett, who returned the favour after the 46-year-old watched the Liverpudlian fight Rodrigo Vargas at the O2 Arena. Pimblett stole the show with a sensational first round win at UFC London – and O’Sullivan is keen to get to grips with him in the ring.

“I am definitely going to try and do some sparring with him, when I next go to Liverpool he has told me I have got to get in the cage,” said O’Sullivan. “And I am well up for that, it is all fitness.

“I went to Paddy’s last fight in London at the O2 with Damien Hirst, because he is a huge fan of UFC and knows the big bosses. We were sitting front row watching Paddy and Molly McCann too, and it was a great night. I have got to know Paddy over the last few weeks. He is a super, lovely guy and is going to be a real superstar – well, he is already really, but he is going to be mega, he has that X-Factor.

“What I like about UFC over maybe even the boxing is that you will never get an easy route. You have to fight whoever they say you are going to fight. In boxing there is a lot of politics involved, and fighters get to fight certain fighters and avoid certain fighters. So the public can be frauded that some are better than they really are because they avoid the real, proper fights.

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“But in UFC that doesn’t happen so much, they know that if they want to be the guvnor then they have got to fight each other. That’s the one thing I really like. It was just an amazing atmosphere at the O2, with 17,000 people and Paddy had the place rocking, he was the star of the night along with Molly. He just has an aura, everyone is talking about him. It was weird, my son was like ‘You went to the UFC, Paddy’s a legend’ and he loved it when I sent him a picture of us.

“We had breakfast together in Llandudno on the morning of my match with Mark Williams, all my friends from Liverpool brought him down. There are a few of the lads, and we had a couple of beers afterwards.” Six-time world champion O’Sullivan will return to the world number one spot next week ahead of the Betfred World Championship as he looks to equal legendary star Stephen Hendry’s record of seven titles. 

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